Ellen Elizabeth Whiting 1850-1932

Ellen and David Farthing as a young couple

Ellen as an older woman

Farthing family around 1904.
Top Row (L-R): William, Elizabeth (Wilkinson), George, Ann (Wilkinson)?, Charles. Front Row (L-R): Ethel, David, Ellen (child), Ellen.

Ellen (centre) with daughter Ethel, her husband Harry Ford, their daughter Ellen and nephew David Pavey.

Parents: Joseph Whiting and Rebecca Cole
Born: 1850 in Haverhill.(1)
Baptised: ?
Married (1): James Wilkinson, full age, batchelor, carman, of Bethnal Green, son of James Wilkinson (deceased), on 19th November 1866 at the Parish Church of St James the Great, Bethnal Green. Witnessed by Thomas and Elizabeth Little.(3,4)
Children: Ann Elizabeth Wilkinson b.1867(5,6), Elizabeth Wilkinson b.1873
Married (2): David William Farthing, 21, batchelor, railway servant, son of William Farthing, groom, on 3rd August 1879 at the Parish Church of St Bartholomew's, Bethnal Green. Witnessed by Joseph Hollingsworth and Marian ? (8,9)
Children: William David Farthing b.1880, Ethel Emma Farthing b.1882, Charles Farthing b.1885, George Robert Farthing b.1890, Dorothy Farthing b.1892 died in infancy, Ellen Farthing b.1896
Died: June 1932 in Letchworth. Buried on 23rd June 1932 at Haverhill Cemetery.(12,13)

Bio: Ellen was a real mystery at first because although she appears on the 1851 census at the age of one there are no clues as to who, if anybody, in the household she is related to. She is living with weavers George and Jane Chapman in Chauntry Croft, and they have a lodger, George Long who is a tailor. Ellen is also listed as a lodger.

The only Ellen Whiting I could find born in 1850 in the Risbridge district was Ellen Elizabeth Whiting.(1) Was she George Longs child? a possibility, but no evidence to back this up. To my knowlege he didn't marry into the Whiting family. Jane Chapman's maiden name was Scott(2) as far as I'm aware, so there were no clues there.

Then Ellen Elizabeth Whiting turned up on a marriage entry in Bethnal Green in 1866. Her father was given as Joseph Whiting, weaver, and her age was spot-on to be the same Ellen, but at this stage she could not be connected to Haverhill in a way that could convince me they were the same person.

The 1871 census showed this Ellen with her now husband, James Wilkinson, 26, working as a carman, living at 10 Fenton Street, Tower Hamlets. Ellen is listed as being born in Suffolk. Getting warmer. Her age is 21. They have a daughter, Annie, 3. James was born in Dagenham, it is revealed.

The baptism entry for their daughter shows her to have been born on 13th October 1867, and she was baptised at St George in the East, Tower Hamlets, on 12th September 1869. James' occupation was confirmed as carman here too, and the family were living at 39 Marmaduke Street at this time.

Still no link to Haverhill yet, but bear with me.

In 1874 James Wilkinson died at the age of around 31(7) and Ellen, now a widow, married again to David Farthing, 21, a railway servant, on 3rd August 1879. We know this is the same Ellen because her father is confirmed as Joseph Whiting, weaver, once more.

And then comes the revelation - the evidence to tie Ellen Elizabeth to Haverhill, and brings us full circle to the discovery she was on my 1881 census all along!!

On the 1881 census we find David and Ellen Farthing back where it all began, for Ellen at least, in Haverhill itself.

They are living in Eden Road. David is working as a railway signalman which follows on from his occupation on the marriage entry. He was born in Holton St Mary, which is a village between Colchester and Ipswich just north of East Bergholt. He was the son of William Farthing and Emma Read(14), and was baptised on 16th May 1858.(15)

Ellen is working as a factory jacket maker and there is the all-important confirmation of her birthplace as Haverhill.

There are two children from Ellen's first marriage - Annie Wilkinson, 13, and Elizabeth Wilkinson, 8, both scholars and a one-year-old son from her second, William, who was born in Haverhill.

Also living with them is a boarder Christiana Whiting, a machinist jacket maker.

So, now we have enough evidence to conclude that she was the same Ellen Elizabeth born in the Risbridge district in 1850. She is repeatedly mentioned as being the daughter of Joseph Whiting, weaver, and the only Joseph Whiting of Haverhill who could fit the bill by being of a suitable age is Joseph Whiting 1808-1868. It appears, then, that she was the youngest daughter of Joseph and Rebecca Whiting - who at 45 would have been near the end of her child-bearing years.

Now we can see that Christiana Whiting, boarder with Ellen, is actually related to the Farthings and Wilkinsons in her house whereas at the time I'd constructed the 1881 census it had been impossible to establish this. Christiana is Ellen's niece, the daughter of her elder brother Edmund, who had also returned to Haverhill before moving back down to London around this time.

Going back to the 1851 census, why, at the age of one, was Ellen Elizabeth not living with her parents? It seems a trifle unusual. Maybe it was a temporary arrangement of some sort - she could have been 'farmed out' because of lack of space, or maybe she had a connection with the Chapman family that we are not aware of. However, given that census returns allow us a glimpse into the past on only one particular day in every ten years, it might just have been that it was convenient for Ellen to have been where she was at that time, on that day, and that she normally lived at home. It is strange, too, that she is absent from the 1861 census. She would have been 11 and again is not living with her parents in Bethnal Green, nor anywhere in Haverhill that I can find.

Moving forward again onto the 1891 census, Ellen and David Farthing are living at 5 Eden Road, Haverhill. David is still a railway signalman, and their two daughters Annie and Elizabeth Wilkinson are still at home working as a jacket maker and drabbet weaver respectively. There are also four children now from Ellen's current marriage, William, Ethel, Charles and George.

The 1901 census finds the family at 18 Mount Road, Haverhill. David remains in the same employ, and now only the children from Ellen and David's marriage remain at home. There is a new addition, Ellen, aged 5. The oldest children, William, Ethel and Charles are working as hair brush weavers. Ellen had had one child, Dorothy, who died in infancy in 1892.

In 1911 we see the family in Mount Road again, this time at No.24. David still works as a Railway Signalman, and now there are only three of the children remaining at home. William Farthing, 30, is a clerk in an iron works, George Farthing, 20, is a painter's labourer, and Ellen Farthing, 15, is an assisting dressmaker.

David Farthing died in 1924, and was buried at Haverhill Cemetery on 12th March.(10,11) Ellen lived for another 8 years and died aged 82 in 1932 in Letchworth, after a busy life in both London and Haverhill. She was buried alongside David at Haverhill Cemetery on 23rd June 1932.(12,13)

Ellen's great grandson John Pavey recently contacted me and was able to corroborate the details of her history. He also generously provided the photos that you see which nicely capture Ellen at various points during her life. In the images that suggest a strong character, we see her both as a young woman and then striking a more matriarchal pose in her later years.

Many thanks to John Pavey for kind permission to use the photos of Ellen and the Farthing family on the left. Click to enlarge.


(1) Birth Register. 1st Quarter 1850, Risbridge District, Volume 12 Page 435.
(2) www.familysearch.org; BT's for the archdeaconry of Sudbury; Batch No. M132501, Film Number: 989592.
(3) London Metropolitan Archives, Saint James The Great, Bethnal Green, Register of marriages, P72/JSG, Item 023.
(4) Marriage Register, 4th Quarter 1866, Bethnal Green District, Volume 1c Page 621
(5) London Metropolitan Archives, St George in the East, Register of Baptism, P93/GEO, Item 026.
(6) Birth Register, 1st Quarter 1868, St George in the East District, Volume 1c Page 450
(7) Death Register. 2nd Quarter 1874, St George in the East District, Volume 1c Page 273
(8) London Metropolitan Archives, Saint Bartholomew, Bethnal Green, Register of marriages, P72/BAT, Item 019.
(9) Marriage Register. 3rd Quarter 1879, Bethnal Green District, Volume 1c Page 365
(10) Death Register. 1st Quarter 1924, Risbridge District, Volume 4a Page 1184
(11) Haverhill Cemetery, Ref. 4383. http://www.haverhill-uk.com/pages/burial-records-137.htm
(12) Death Register. 2nd Quarter 1932, Hitchin District, Volume 3a Page 859
(13) Haverhill Cemetery, Ref. 4820. http://www.haverhill-uk.com/pages/burial-records-137.htm
(14) Marriage Register. 2nd Quarter 1856, Samford District, Volume 4a Page 827
(15) Holton St. Mary, Suffolk, England; Collection: ; BTs; Date Range: 1856 - 1865; Film Number: 952453.